Sunday, September 25, 2011



Sailor Sue and I have never met, yet we have been friends for a number of years, cyber friends, each following the others life through emails and blogs.  This episode follows Sue’s adventures aboard Piano as she and her Barnacle Bill continue their odyssey from England through the Azores to the Caribbean.

Rainbow Rob   and   Sailor Sue


For the long haul across the Atlantic,  Captain Malcolm shipped aboard extra  able seamen to help with the sails and necessary crewing,  to help celebrate Sailor Sue’s birthday, decorate the cabin with flags,  and maybe to even bake a  birthday cake.

Does that sound a trifle flippant?  I don’t mean to be.  I’m actually in awe at the thought of anyone crewing anything less than  a QE2 across the huge Atlantic.  But then again I’m a landlubber and they most decidedly are not.

Sue and Malcolm’s  photos recording the event show blue skies and an apparently even keel, the gods of happy sailing were obviously with them as Piano made her way from the Azores to the Caribbean.

Skipper & Otto playing with the main
Flags for the Birthday Girl
Otto busy with sails first, then the cake
And finally, entertaining the Birthday Girl



FEB 2011

St Bartholomey

Monday, 7 February 2011

Carlisle Bay, Bridgetown, Bardados.

We had a fantastic sail here from La Gomerra, in the Canaries.  Just 18 days straight down the wind with twin Yankees poled out most of the time. Some days we notched up 150 odd nautical miles.
 Since arriving we have been able to swim to the silver sands which they call the beach!  The weather is good, (understatement) but intermittent hot rain showers which last 2-10 minutes and are sooooo refreshing!
 Our friends aboard Folly are here as are Moosher and Life O Reilly.
 Ashore so far we have toured the South Eastern coast and seen the Orchid Gardens.  Travel around is easy with a regular bus service plus yellow buses and minivans in competition but for the same price BA$2 for any trip.
 We have some American friends coming out to St Barts so will probably sail there to see them, and then back to St Lucia where some English friends are having a holiday- but as you know plans change by the day....
 As usual wifi is poor and having just uploaded all the Barbados images for you I haven't had time to do St Barths yet. However we are sitting on the quayside besides all the super yachts (Gin Palaces) watching all the rich people in designer gear coming ashore for whatever, it being Sunday I guess it will be church! 

(For those of nautical bent)

Well we made it to the other side, arriving in Barbados on 27 Jan after almost exactly 18 days, which was at least 3 days quicker than we had counted on. The first English person we met when we arrived, had seen Piano when she was new and being fitted out!

Our only serious problem was a failure of the generator water pump impeller on the second day out. Then the replacement failed 7 days later  but luckily the second replacement hasn’t suffered the same fate. Also we lost a bowthruster propeller but that almost certainly happened in Las Palmas but we only discovered it while swimming around the boat here.

The distance over the ground was 2538nm, giving an average distance covered of 141miles per day (average speed 5.9 knots). The log recorded 2640nm, giving an average daily run of 147 miles (average speed through the water of 6.1 knots but I’m not sure how accurate the log is!). Our best daily run was 162nm (6.75knots), according to the log or 157nm over the ground and the worst 114nm. In fact we only had 4 days on which we covered less than 140 miles. We only had the mainsail up for 3 or 4 days towards the beginning of the passage – after that it was either one or two yankees and the staysail. While the trip was much faster than we had planned for, it was relatively uncomfortable, with lots of rolling but just two waves broke into the cockpit and the maximum wind we saw was 35 knots (very briefly).
 Sue coped very well and wasn’t seasick at all (probably thanks to the Stugeron).  

Otto fished for a while but on the second day, he lost lure, weight and half the line to something that was probably bigger than we wanted to deal with and didn’t try again. Still we had fresh meat and some vegetables throughout and ate very well. We saw 2 pilot whales, a turtle or two and quite a few dolphins but generally we were all alone. On the whole trip we saw just a handful of ships, coming within 2 miles of two of them. Our closest encounter was with another British yacht, also bound for Barbados, which we first saw on the AIS at around 15 miles and which finally passed about one mile astern of us. We had a long chat with him on VHF and he was surprised to learn that I had seen his green navigation light from over 7 miles away!





On the way back from the supermarket,  Deb (Bay Pelican) and Marsha (Crusader) stopped us and said it looked as though I could do with a break, so would I like to join the ladies for lunch at the Bay Garden Hotel? Just let Marsha  know by radio so that she could adjust the numbers, and remember to bring my swimsuit for afterwards.

  So I arranged a lift with Pat and Maria and had a fantastic time! 14 or so ladies from the anchored yachts and those in the marina plus a few who were just out for the season.  Marsha says the faces change each week—apart from the few regulars...cocktails and chat first, then sit down to lunch,& more to drink, followed by chilling out in the pool, while the more active decided to learn the quick step and salsa. 
Danielle (St Lucia Sailing Club) made an announcement about the Commodores Barefoot Ball on Saturday at the St Lucia Sailing Club.  We decided to go at the last minute and were pleased that we did, the food was all home cooked and delicious!  Dancing afterwards and we even got a lift home because the heavens had opened while we were eating.( Many thanks Daphne & David) 


13th May Canouan to the Tobago Keys.

Even shorter sail  just 3 hours anchor to anchor. It’s surprising how exhilarating this fast sailing is, Malcolm slept for the rest of the afternoon while I finished my book and updated the blog story ready for uploading.  Once again the water is not so wonderful for snorkelling and there is quite a wind blowing for fun in the water
14th May Tobago Keys
 The boat boy delivered croissants at 8.30.  First thing we moved ‘Piano’ from her mooring buoy 50 yards to the right nicely at anchor. We took ‘Crescendo’ of to another mooring buoy (no charge) so that we could snorkel.

27 May 2011

Union Island

Once again a fast sail and I helmed all the way ! - well it was only a couple of hours…  A special treat, since we have no fresh vegetables aboard we eat ashore. Red Snapper and unusual veg plus rice and coleslaw and Real CHIPS!!!

Barnacle Bill meeting a few landlubbers
Union Island

Piano beneath the Pitons


The sail to Grenada was ace! We averaged 6 knots and did 7.5 quite a bit too. We berthed at Port Louis Marina in time for Tea.  It is a very up-market marina with pool, private beach, de-luxe showers, free broadband wi-fi, TV, and the staff and security guys are wonderfully helpful.

A major shopping expedition to Grand Anse where there is an American Supermarket.  In the foyer are some ladies selling home made cookies etc—just like the W.I. Producers at home!  They turned out to be American ex pats and were doing quite a trade

We are in Whisper Bay
Monday 13th June, there was a holiday (Whitsun ?)so that meant a VERY LOUD party on Sunday evening. We were still both awake 0100 when Malcolm did a boat check and found the Avon (tender) (Crescendo) missing! The wind was ashore so we thought ok we'll look downwind in the morning....We announced on the Yachties 'net' what had happened and if anyone saw it would they bring it back/ help us look for it /take us to get a new one/ etc etc. 

Ok so one guy answers our plea and has seen a lone dinghy, on his way to us, so he & Malcolm go investigate and YES it is Crescendo minus the fuel tank (but even that is good news) Our new friend Tony then finds a local fisherman who has an old Yamaha tank for sale and takes Malcolm to buy it, we have a spare line aboard so all we need is a squeegee thing and Tony says he has a spare! so we are mobile again before lunch !
Wednesday 15TH JUNE
Malcolm went into town for more money and supplies while I terrified myself aboard in the worst squall of the trip.  The sky was black and the winds heeled the boat as though we were sailing! And I could barely see the shore!
Thursday 16th sign out of Grenada and slip for Peakes Marina in Trinidad.



The next three months are spent back home in England. To coincide with the Hurricane season, Piano has been put in mothballs.  Sue returns to her diary with the entry below.

After a most welcome break from the heat and humidity-plus visiting our cottage and many dear friends (A HUGE THANK-YOU to all those who gave us such splendid hospitality in the way of bed and board—John & Vi, Shirley & David, Adrienne and mum.)  We only missed a few other local friends and look forward to seeing some of you next year !




We arrived back in Trinidad amidst some trepidation.  A nine o’clock curfew has been imposed in some areas so we were lucky to have arranged a taxi driver who had a curfew pass to get us home.  Even so the police stopped him to check his pass.

 ‘Piano’ was cool and just as we had left her so we went straight to bed after nearly 24 hours travelling.

Needless to say my body clock was still on BST so I was awake with the birds. We told the cruising net that we were back and found that there was a ‘Pot Luck’ night tonight at another yard. Most of the unpacking stowed and breakfast over we then cycled to immigration to sign in and purchase food for this evening.

Immigration went well and we extended our stay until mid November (the end of the hurricane season here)  This cost us $200TT which we had returned the next day as it had been taken in error!



I managed to bake a cake and 2 Quiches & a chicken pie for the social events this week.  So Thursday evening we went to the Sundowners/Hors d’oeuvres/book/DVD swap evening at Coral Cove.

Friday spent at the laundrette and preparing for the hike to Rincon Falls tomorrow.

Saturday up at 0530 for a mini bus pick up at 0600 am—picked up 9 other people and journeyed to the North of the Island.  The Northerly range of Mountains is the highest of 3 and contains the Rincon Valley, this is where we began our hike to the Rincon Waterfalls. 

On a scale of 1-10 it was billed as an 8 on the Hike-Seekers website.  There was a gentle fall of rain while we were kitting up but this soon stopped so we began in great spirits.  Our Guide was Lawrence (Snake) he repaired Robyns’ flip-flops and gave us a pep talk before we began.  Snake is an ex army Survival Instructor with years of experience and very knowledgeable too.


  On route we stopped frequently for rests and were ably helped by Jesses’ brother Dan over some parts which needed ropes. Needless to say we were very messy by the time we arrived and pleasantly amazed by the height of the fall when we reached our destination. 

After lunch and a swim we set off on another route to return. This was a more gentle mule track and led to another waterfall and swim in cool mountain water. Jesse loves the water and make various attempts to climb up the falls so that he could either jump or water-slide down.  In a cave off to one side of the pool the resident bats were only slightly disturbed by the loud belly flops of Jesse enjoying himself! Snake helpfully repaired some walking boots which had begun to come delaminated and were later to loose the soles completely!

We continued back to the minivan, stopping at a local bar known of by Snake, where some of us had a refreshing beer.  Back at the minibus we changed into dry clothes and set off for Maracas Bay.  Here just on teatime we ordered a Shark-n-Bake (yum yum)  This is a ‘batter’ fried roll (very light and crispy) filled with fried shark, lettuce leaves tomatoes and coleslaw, with a side order of fries.  (Truly delicious)
  Homeward bound we were the last to be dropped off and after thanking Jesse for all his hard work driving we set about some serious resting up, tea, shower and sleep...


Sadly all good things must come to an end - unless of course you're a crew member aboard Piano.  So, with the Rincon Falls excursion behind them, I close this seafaring tale about Sailor Sue and Captain Malcolm.

I’ve so very much enjoyed their adventures, envied their travels and admired their sea going spirit. Sue's travel diaries have been a much less expensive substitute for a one way ticket across the Atlantic.

I will be keeping a watchful eye on Piano’s progress as they proceed ever more westward, hoping one day she will bring her sailors safely across the biggest pond of all, the Pacific, maybe find her way to another safe harbour, the one right outside Straddie’s Little Ship Club on Moreton Bay...which is of course,  just a hop, skip and jump away from my little patch of paradise.

Bon voyage, Piano!


Robyn Mortimer
Adapted from Sailor Sue’s – Piano’s Adventures Around the World.